Reading List: May and June

A selection of “stuff” we enjoyed reading over these last two months. What did you think of these articles, blogposts, etc.? What else did you read?

Social Bridging at the MAH – In this post Nina Simon describes social bridging, one of the goals of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. Simon defines social bridging as, “building social capital by forging unexpected connections between diverse collaborators and audience members.”  Simon reflects on the philosophical (and behavioral) shifts in the museum following the success of events that sought to socially bridge groups. Staff time at SCMAH is now intentionally spent on understanding how to connect groups. For another perspective on supporting pluralism in museums read Simona Bodo’s guest blog for the Incluseum on intercultural work in museums.

How Arts and Culture Can Advance a Neighborhood Centered Cultural Agenda – This link directs you to a summary of a policy paper by Caron Atlas of the Arts  & Democracy Project.  It’s so good we had to read the full paper here.  Of particular significance is Atlas’ breakdown of a “progressive cultural policy.” Atlas argues for the core principles of self determination of communities, cultural and racial equity and reflecting the changing demographics of cities – among other things.  How can museums be of relevance within such a cultural policy?  We think they can.

An Open Letter Introducing the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art – Read an open letter from Chris E. Vargas the Executive Director of the new Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art.  Vargas is literally making an open call to the community to build and support MOTHA. This way of growing a museum is intentional and we are excited that MOTHA is gaining ground. Welcome MOTHA!

Museums Confront the Skeletons in their Closet – Museums in Europe and the US are in the process of repatriating unethically obtained objects and human remains,  a part of the legacy of colonial empire in each country. In the words of the German Museums Association ethical guidelines, “there is no simple answer that can be applied equally to all collections.” What do you think about the fears some museums in this article retain?  For example, that repatriation stands in the way of scientific research (itself a paradigm shared among these colonizing countries) or could lead to the loss of most of their collections?  

How to Make Museums More Inviting for Kids with Autism – This article addresses museum behavior and environments that support children with autism (1 in 88 children in the US) and their parents. The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia provides a model for intentional change.  This article addresses the hour of play reserved for children with special needs that is part of the Play Without Boundaries Initiative at the museum.  However, Play Without Boundaries goes deeper than that. Read more here.  For more on supporting individuals with autism in museums, read Lisa Jo Rudy’s Incluseum guest post here.

Your Future Called It. Wants a Better Civics Education. Webster Hutchins, a teacher at South Lake High School in Seattle, advocates for civic education in schools. Hutchins feels that if youth are introduced to civic tools  they will be better prepared to participate in and advocate for themselves in civic discourse and the political process.   Hutchins’ interests align with the Generations Initiative, a nationwide project with a 5 year effort to develop a multi-generational response to demographic shifts in the US.  This article summarizes data on nationwide and Seattle specific demographic shifts and asks what action comes next.

New Middle School Set to Open in Houston’s Museum District – A new alternative education program, A + Unlimited Potential,  for 40 Houston 6th graders is a tuition-free, open-application private middle school. “The school will not have a campus but will meet daily at different locations, including the Holocaust Museum, Health Museum, Children’s Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Natural Science and the Houston Zoo.”  Sounds dreamy!  We are interested to follow this program and find out the impact of the program on student learning, socializing and general well-being.  If successful, how could this model be more accessible to students?

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